The Department of Mineral Resources presented its findings on the latest developments at the Tegeta mines since its last meeting with the Portfolio Committee. The Committee was also updated on the thwarted efforts of its support staff to interview potential witnesses to try to garner more evidence of state capture for the Department.
The presentation on Tegeta mines looked at the non-compliance that had been observed by the inspectors and the actions taken by the Department in response to them. Areas of non-compliance had been found in aspects such as deteriorating or poorly maintained infrastructure, machinery and equipment not meeting requirements, and social and labour plans not being implemented.
The Committee raised concerns about the business rescue practitioners and the Department’s interactions with them regarding the checks and balances involved in the legislative procedures. A Member suggested that it seemed that all the mines were in violation in one way or another, so why was this being picked up only now, and not when previous inspections had been conducted? The Chairperson also referred to letters, one of which was from the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which painted a bleak picture about the mines, indicating that the situation was worse than when they had come to the Committee previously. Optimum mine had indicated the situation had deteriorated to the extent where staff had been told that there was no guarantee they would be paid at the end of June
The Committee’s support staff reported that they had had to abort their planned visit to interview witnesses in their inquiry into state capture, as they had been informed at the last minute that their travels had not been approved. It appeared that this may have been due to budgetary issues, which led to two problems. The first was that a budget was needed to conduct the inquiry. The Department was not based in Cape Town and the majority of the relevant people were not based in Cape Town either. Travel was therefore necessary, because it would not make sense to ask witnesses to come to Cape Town as opposed to three people from the support staff going to Johannesburg. The second issue was that the support staff had been thrown off their work schedule, as they were dependent on those meetings to assist them to close the gaps they had identified in their research, and to start preparing their questions. She had prepared questions for certain witnesses, but needed input from those potential witnesses.
Opposition Members of the Committee said they found it hard to believe that Parliament did not have a budget to fund a Parliamentary inquiry, and suggested that either there was an oversight, and a budget had not been provided, or a political decision had been made to close down the inquiry. Other Members thought that the matter was being dealt with honestly. Pre-consultations were very important, so the legal department would have to decide who they wanted to call, who they wanted to consult with, and when they would want to consult with them. This would have to include the costs and purposes of each consultation. A formal letter could then be written to the House Chairperson, stating that the Committee was requesting the required budget from the Department in order to fulfil the request from Parliament.
Tegeta mines: Safety issues
Mr Mtholozisi Zondi, Acting Chief Inspector of Mines: Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) said Tegeta had three mines in Mpumalanga -- the Brakfontein, Koornfontein and Optimum mines. The North West had the Shiva Uranium mine. At the request of the Portfolio Committee (PC), the DMR had compiled a report on the mines’ audit and inspections done on the infrastructure and operational equipment.
Among the non-compliance observed by the inspectors in respect of infrastructure was that at their gold plant, the steel work was corroded, and the action taken by the Department was the issuing of a Section 54 instruction for them to make sure they installed new steel work at the gold plant. A second non-compliance was with the code of practice that had been issued by the DMR, as well as the requirements that were issued by the original equipment manufacturer. What the mine had to do was to fix those deficiencies, and a Section 55 instruction had been issued by inspectors. Their trackless mobile machinery was not equipped with the proximity detection system which prevented vehicle collisions. The mine had applied for an exemption from the DMR, but that exemption had not been granted because of the high risk of the people being hit by the vehicles without the trackless mobile equipment.
Another non-compliance observed was that their trackless mobile machinery (TMM) was not in adequate working condition, with defective brakes, and some did not have air conditioning systems. An instruction had been issued for them to repair their TMMs. The lifting equipment and tower cranes used in the plant were not maintained adequately, and the Department instructed them to do maintenance and to conduct load tests on the cranes. A further non-compliance observed had been on their pressure vessels, which were not routinely examined and maintained as per the regulations. Some of the mines did not have adequate personal protection equipment (PPE) stock, such as overall sizes or two-piece overalls for women. Audits showed that the mines had not done any blasting. The Shiva uranium mine was currently not conducting any underground processes -- they were only processing their stockpiles which were on the surface.
Mr Zondi referred to the health and safety performance of the Tegeta Mines, and highlighted that last year and this year they had not had any fatalities, which was commendable. However, 40 injuries had been reported to the DMR by the different mines since last year. Some of the reasons for enforcement instructions being issued were that employees were not wearing safety belts when using the light delivery vehicles (LDVs), corroded machines, and unlicensed employees using the tower cranes. Section 55 instructions had been issued because employees were not trained in all their mandatory forms of practice, and some of the working places were not adequately illuminated.
Ms Connie Kobe, Chief Director: Mineral Regulation, DMR, said a directive had been given to the Department in March to conduct further social development plan inspections and to report its findings to the Committee. Those inspections had been conducted and the Department was continuing its audits of the companies.
In North West (NW), an inspection had been conducted and a Section 93 instruction had been issued. The company had continued to engage with the regional office in terms of addressing the issues of non-compliance. An action plan from the company had been submitted to the DMR by the Business Rescue Practitioners (BRP) on 14 April 2018, and they continued to address the issues of non-compliance. As far as the Mpumalanga section was concerned, inspections had been conducted from the week of 12 March until 15 March 2018, as directed by the PC. Both Optimum and Brakfontein mines had been audited.
The focus had been mainly on the social and labour plan (SLP). The Department had outlined the SLP, which included elements of human resource development for skills development and employment equity, which addressed the imbalances of the past. There were issues of housing and living conditions of mine workers which were related to community development; the contribution towards the economic development of the host communities and labour sending areas; and procurement presenting opportunities to expand economic growth and addressing issues of unemployment or job creation. The companies had to create mechanisms to save jobs or, where jobs could not be saved, to ameliorate the impact of job losses through the management of downscaling or retrenchment.
Ms Kobe added that the Department had gone to Optimum Mine and met with organised labour through the National Union of Mines (NUM), the Steve Tshwete Municipality and the suppliers to the mine, who were part of the audit. They had gone through human resource (HR) development, but going through the elements they had realised that since the company took over from Glencore, no work had been done on HR development even though there were clear targets from the previous company. A training budget of R11 million had been approved for 2017/18, but had been diverted at the instance of Chief Executive Officer. There had been no career progression or mentorship conducted, and in fact, the entire HR development element had not been adhered to. The only thing that the company could show was that they were legally compliant in terms of mine health and safety training, even though it was not adequate because the workers were allowed to operate machinery without proper training and authorisation. The company met the employment equity target, but at the senior management level, the representation of women was lacking.
With regard to community development, the DMR had gone on site to inspect the company's community health care centre project, which was 99.9% complete. However, the company had yet to take over the centre because of its inability to pay the service provider, so the Department was engaging with the service provider and other stakeholders, including the provincial government and Glencore. The community was currently using a temporary youth centre structure as a clinic, which was too small and not conducive for rendering health services. On housing and living conditions, the company had not facilitated any home ownership.
The Department gone through the management of downscaling, and had found that though a future forum (FF) had been established, it was not functional and organised labour was concerned that information was not reaching them. On procurement, the DMR would be conducting a thorough inspection, because information that had been supplied was insufficient to verify the level of compliance. It had concluded that the company was non-compliant as far as social and labour commitments were concerned.
The Department had proceeded to Brakfontein on 17 March and found that the mine was still working on the SLPs. The situation was the same as at Optimum Mines, where there had been no implementation of HR development projects. When the company took over, some of the programme targets had been amended. They had met the employment equity targets, but at senior management level they were male dominated. The Department had requested the company to provide a report on what they normally supplied to the Department of Labour for further evaluation.
Ms Kobe said that for community development, the company had inherited a project from Glencore. Glencore had implemented phase one and phase two of the programme. Phase three remained unimplemented at the date of inspection. The FF had been established, and the findings were that though the company was operating, there was no approved SLP, and HR development targets had been reduced to zero.
The Brakfontein inspection was conducted on the15 March 2018, and only management had been at the meeting. On housing and living conditions, there was no facilitation of home ownership by the company and R300 per month was allocated as a living out allowance to employees. The company was currently not operational.
Mr Zondi presented the Lily Mine progress report. The families of the three miners who had been trapped in the February 2016 disaster at the mine had each been paid R200 000, and the other workers had each been paid R10 000, with the balance of R40 000 still to be paid by the new owners of the mine. The Department had completed the inquiry report, which was en route to the Minister. The BRP had secured funding from the Skynet Computer Corporation (SCC) group and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), and there would be an application for the transfer of mining rights through the Department. They would have to obtain all the regulatory approvals, and the mine would then commence operating in November 2018.
What would be important for them would be to repair access to the underground areas which had been destroyed in the accident. This meant they would have to sink a new ventilation shaft. At least 600 jobs would be saved between Lily Mine and Barbrook. The plan was that once the completion of the development had occurred, they could recover the three missing mineworkers while concurrently continuing with mining operations. The Department’s experience with the BRP had indicated that it would take very long for BRP to secure funding. A second observation was that some of the mines had been on business rescue for more than two years.
Mr Thabo Mokoena, Director General: DMR, said it was important to note that at Optimum Mine there was a contract miner that had been appointed, as there was a challenge regarding banking facilities. The BRP had managed to get a contract miner who would be appointed for a period of 12 months while they were still busy trying to sort out the sale of the mines. Meetings were scheduled with the BRP for 5 June 2018 in order to get a full briefing from them. The DMR had been made aware that the BRPs had been experiencing challenges at Shiva Uranium, and would get a briefing next week on these challenges.
The Lily Mine’s Acting Chief Inspector had indicated that progress had been made. They would also be having a meeting with the CEO and the Minister, who had made a physical visit to Optimum Mine. He was not sure about the work BRP were doing, but from time to time there was a period where they had had to conclude the transactions. The BRP were available to meet with the DMR whenever the Department wanted to meet. The Department would try and bring all the issues they found to the attention of the BRP. It was very worried about the manner in which some of the transactions were being conducted, because they were taking a long time before being concluded. He made a commitment that the team was highly committed to making sure that the challenges would be resolved, working with the relevant stakeholders.
The Chairperson said he had two letters from Mr Thembinkosi Rawula (EFF Member of Parliament responsible for labour and trade union relations), and the other from the NUM, for the attention of the Committee. The letters painted a bleak picture about the mines. The NUM letter said that the situation was worse than when they had come to the Committee the last time. Optimum had indicated the situation had deteriorated to the extent where staff had been told that there was no guarantee they would be paid at the end of June, which meant that Shiva was also in a bad position. The Committee secretary would email the letters to the Committee members.
Ms H Nyambi (ANC) asked about the financial situation at the mines, because there had been a crisis before the inspections.
Ms M Mafolo (ANC) asked who was responsible for making sure that the companies adhered to the SLP.
Mr J Lorimer (DA) said that when Shiva was taken over by Tegeta, there had been no training and yet they had been in charge of the mine for quite some time, and it had never been discovered during previous inspections. From the presentation, it seemed that all the mines were in violation in one way or another, so why was this being picked up only now, and not when the previous inspections had been conducted? He wanted to know whether there had been no previous inspections and if so, why that was the case.
Adv H Schmidt (DA) said the report had not referred to the BRP’s view as to what had been happening at the mines, but had been from the DMR’s point of view. All the mines seemed to be struggling with cash flow, and BRP were there to try and rescue them from being liquidated. Was there a sense by the Department that the mines would continue to mine in the future, as he was concerned by the statement that the Optimum mine was shipping out coal without money coming back to the mine? This would lead to the questioning of the viability on the mine.
Mr Zondi, responding to Ms Nyambi, said that the main issue was the management of the mines. The mines were currently financially viable, as they had enough coal reserves. One of their main challenges was the banking facilities, because if a company did not have banking facilities then it could not transact. Since the Bank of Baroda had decided to withdraw from South Africa, it meant they would not have any banking facilities.
Ms Kobe, responding to Ms Mafolo, said that the mineral regulation branch was responsible through its various components. She assured the Committee that there had been an inspection as far as non-compliance was concerned, and their findings had confirmed the early inspections. The company was now engaging the Department on the non-compliance and going forward, those that did not meet their SLPs would have to compile a closure report on them. Any shortfalls would need to be addressed.
Mr Mokoena emphasised that during the meeting with the business rescue practitioners, the practitioner had said that the mines were financially viable. The Department would make sure to work on the issues of non-compliance that had been raised.
Mr Schmidt said that the BRP were there to save businesses from liquidation and if what the Department was saying was true in terms of the financial viability of the mines, then one could say there was a future for the mines. The situation regarding Tegeta was that it was still a company and had not been registered, and it did not seem to have indicated a willingness to sell any of the assets at these mines. BRP did not have the power to decide whether to sell, or who to sell to, except with the approval of the owner and a court order. He was worried because ownership was still with Tegeta, and he had not seen a statement by them saying they wanted to sell the mines. He asked whether the Department was aware of any intention to sell by the owners of the mines, to sell to new owners.
Mr Lorimer asked for a timeline of when the mines had been found to be in violation, and how long it had taken for statutory notices to be issued. Focusing on the Shiva mine, he asked whether the Department was aware of the illegal mining and attacks on mine security. There were reports of the Gupta company helicopter flying on to the mine over the last six weeks, which was rumoured to be taking out gold. He was interested in knowing whether the diamonds and precious metals regulator had taken an interest in the gold produced from that mine, and whether or not it was being mined. He asked for more information on the BRP, because the IDC -- which was involved with Shiva mine -- was not happy with the BRP and sought to have a different one appointed. The Lily mineworker payouts had been announced by the Minister without consulting mining management, so the remaining worker payouts could affect the future viability of the mine because any new owner would start with that financial burden. He asked for more information on the SCC Group, which did not seem to have a record in mining, and how much the IDC had put towards that project. Why had the Department thought it was the right idea for the SCC Group to take over this mine?
Mr Zondi, responding to the non-compliance issue, said that whenever non-compliance was observed, appropriate action was taken against the mines. As highlighted in the presentation, 22 Section 54 instructions were issued, and 19 Section 55 instructions were issued, and this was done by the inspectors.
The problem of illegal mining could be understood by the fact that when any gold or precious minerals mine stopped its operations and there was no adequate security, there would be a high probability of illegal mining. That was why the Department made sure that the mining companies attended the different stakeholder forums on illegal mining for them to address any illegal mining issues they were facing. The South African Police Service (SAPS) would take appropriate measures to address this situation.
Ms Kobe said there were follow-up inspections after the Section instructions had been issued. The latest had been done early this year, and perhaps the DMR should place on record that there was a capacity issue which required resources to be spread across the different provinces.
Mr Mokoena said it had been reported that the reason why the Tegeta mines were being sold was because they could not have any banking facilities. It was impossible for any interest to be expressed by the very same owners of the mines, which was why BRP had been appointed. A commitment had been made by the previous Minister with regards to the Lily mine, and the Department had been interacting with the CEO of the new mine about outstanding payments. There was no indication that they would not be able to honour the commitment.
The Department did not want to be seen as interfering with the IDC processes, as there was a situation raised about a section 11 instruction that had been issued and whether the Department had made recommendations regarding black economic empowerment (BEE). The new buyer had a right to get their own BEE level that they would be comfortable with. When the mines were under business rescue, the Department strived for the appointment of a reputable company. However, at this stage the companies could not be categorised as reputable, but the BRP must conduct their work with the set standards. The BRP were not appointed by the Department. The BRP kept the DMR abreast with what happened on the mines.
The DMR did not have any information with regard to the Gupta helicopter, but the BRP would have reported such activity, and nothing had been reported to the Department.
Ms Nyambi said she appreciated that the mines were financially viable, but the presentation had indicated that companies were continuing to produce coal without any money coming back to them. She wanted to know where the money went, and if this would not destroy the financial viability of the mines.
Mr I Pikinini (ANC) said that something needed to be done about the youth centre which was being used as a clinic, because that should not be the living conditions of those people. The Committee should be taken into confidence on the matter of who was intending to buy the Lily mine, and how far they were with those proceedings. If there was a Future Forum that existed there, but workers were not operating, then something needed to be done.
Ms Mafolo asked when the communities would be getting their SLPs, and how the mines were operating without an SLP. She also asked what the work force of Lily mine was, and whether the new company would be employing that workforce, because it could lead to people fighting over jobs.
Mr Zondi responded that the report they had received with regard to funding Lily mine was that the new company would start operations in November, and that they were working in partnership with the IDC. The total workforce in Lily mine and Barbrook before the accident was 980 employees for both mines. The plan was that when the mine restarted, they would try to employ as many of the previous employees as possible. The expected life of the Lily mine before the accident was about 10 to15 years.
Ms Kobe said that the Department continued to engage the company. The DMR was still going to audit procurement. It would be a gross violation for the company to operate without SLPs, but the Department was considering the fact that the company was now under business rescue and certain enforcement measures could not be enforced by the Department. However, the Department was engaging with its legal experts as to how to deal with the matter without closing the company down, because closing it down would mean that there would be no rescue of the company. The Department was working with the province to deal with the issue of the health care facilities, as there were other stakeholders that could assist.
Mr Mokoena said that at the moment there was a contract miner that had been appointed to the company for 12 months. The BRP had started with the process of inviting bidders, and the Committee would be informed of the buyer following the BRP process. The Department had agreed that this was an independent process and was aware that the people using the clinic were experiencing difficulties. Hopefully the BRP would do justice to the situation.
Mr Schmidt said that at the moment the Department was selectively enforcing certain criteria and parts of the agreement, which brought him to the question of what the Department should be and should not be enforcing. Looking at it from that point of view, the DMR would have no choice but to enforce their legislative requirements, because it would then be a contractual relationship rather than a legislative one.
Ms Mafolo proposed that Ms Kobe make an arrangement with the companies and the BRP on how they would make sure that the SLPs were adhered to in the next report.
Mr Mokoena said that the request was in order, and they would deal with the matter. The Department was dealing with the application and implementation of different pieces of legislation which was why, as Ms Kobe had mentioned, they were speaking with their legal experts to assist in order to avoid selective decisions.
The Chairperson said that the Minister had said that he was going to the Optimum mine and all other areas to attend to the matter, and would return with a progress report. Reading the presentation, he could not see what the progress report was. It was assumed that all was well and good at Shiva and Optimum, when in essence the letter from NUM said that things were worse than when they had come to the Committee. The letter from NUM had gone further, to state that contractors had been told that their services were no longer required in terms of human resource capacity. It had been a complaint, stating that the arrangement was failing because the company had not been productive for the past five months due to lack of resources. Secondly, the letter had stated that the mine had not been supplying coal to Eskom, and the coal that had been stockpiled was almost finished, meaning there would be nothing to export. The company, including the BRP, had indicated that they did not know if the miners would be paid in June.
The Department was a custodian of what was happening at the mines, but the newspapers said that the BRPs were fighting amongst themselves to a point where he could not be sure if what the previous BRP which had presented, had given the Committee the correct information about how they had been appointed, as it seemed to be a contested issue. What he knew was that one BRP was sharing an office with the same person who had instituted the legal proceedings for a BRP.
What the Committee would have liked to see was what the developments were since the last meeting they had with the Department. He could agree that the mines were viable businesses, but the fact of the matter was whether they were getting income to sustain themselves. He asked if the Department could afford to wait for a Section 11, so that it would not be accused of interfering, or whether there were other considerations to think about. He asked if the Department was in control of what was happening at Lily mine. The Department should be able to intervene in what was happening at the mines, not as an entity with business interests, but to ensure that what was supposed to happen was happening. The report did not assist the Committee to judge whether the mines were in a better situation than they were before.
Mr Mokoena said that the Department was committed to finding an amicable solution to the matter and had taken note of the point that they should not be too oversensitive on the matter of interfering with the process. The team would be confirming the complaints from the NUM. The Department would be more prepared in two weeks’ time to come back with a comprehensive report on the Tegeta mines. He would be taking full responsibility as the accounting officer, together with the team, on the matter.
The Chairperson said that the Committee would have to see if there would be time for that report, or whether it would have to be done in an ad hoc manner.
Inquiry into State Capture at Department of Mineral Resources
Ms Fatima Ebrahim, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, said that at the last meeting, the DMR had indicated that they had setup preliminary meetings with potential witnesses to try and garner more evidence. Some were in response to submissions, and others involved persons the support staff had identified. The support staff had been due to travel over the weekend to conduct those interviews, but late on Thursday afternoon they had been informed that their travels were not approved. As a result, the trip had not taken place, and they had not been able to meet with the relevant witnesses.
It appeared that this may have been due to budgetary issues, which led to two problems. The first was that a budget was needed to conduct the inquiry. The Department was not based in Cape town and the majority of the relevant people were not based in Cape Town either. Travel was therefore by no means a luxury, but rather something that was necessary because it would not make sense to ask witnesses to come to Cape Town as opposed to three people from the support staff going to Johannesburg. The second issue was that in the absence of those meetings, the support staff had been thrown off their work schedule as they were dependent on those meetings to assist them to close the gaps they had identified in their research, and to start preparing their questions. She had prepared questions for certain witnesses, but needed input from those potential witnesses.
Ms Ebrahim said that at this stage she was concerned about the time aspect, and that the only other option she could think of was for the Committee to proceed in a slightly different manner. Consideration could be given to conducting this as normal oversight, and calling the current executive to account. Nothing would prevent the Committee from calling the newly appointed Minister and putting these questions to the Minister on what he was planning or currently doing to look at the issues that the Committee had identified. The terms reference were very specific issues that fell within the mandate of the current Minister. There would be nothing prevent the Minister from instructing the Director General, as the accounting officer, to determine the cause of the loss and to take steps to recover the losses. Nothing would prevent the Minister from looking at any of the other issues. She asked the Committee to direct her on the way forward.
The Chairperson said he had met with the House Chairperson, and in the discussion it had been indicated that no money was allocated for issues of oversight. The other issue was that with the schedule they had, no arrangement had been made to have a member remaining behind to do this, unless there was a very strong motivation beyond legislation. Thirdly, was the issue of a cost exercise, where the starting point would have been to call the new executive and establish whether work was being done on the basis of what had been presented to it. The response with regard to the submissions had had an element of reluctance, because there had been only one response. He made a concession that he had received a call from the media, as they had been concerned that they had not been aware that there had been a call for submissions.
Mr Lorimer said this was unacceptable, because why would Parliament want an inquiry and then not allocate a budget. The Committee needed to write to Parliament and request that a sufficient budget be allocated.
Mr Schmidt asked who had rejected the trip -- Parliament or the Department. Calling the new Minister would not be good enough.
Ms Ebrahim responded that Mr Frolick, as the Chair of Chairs, was where the trip had been stopped.
Mr Mokoena said that as the accounting officer, he had not been approached with a request for financial support by the Minister's Department, which was always willing to support the work of Parliament.
The Chairperson said that his weakness on this matter was that he had tried to stay as far away as possible. His deduction of what had been said was that a budget had not been allocated for the matter. He had spoken only on what the Committee had resolved, and had not been willing to take a decision on something beyond his powers. Everything done in the Committee meeting had been contained in what the Committee Secretary had sent to the House Chair, and included how far the process was. Unfortunately, there was yet to be a response to that process, there had only been a verbal interaction.
Mr Pikinini said that because of the time and the movements of Mr Zondo who, according to the news, was going to start his process soon, perhaps taking the one submission and submitting it would be the first step in the process.
Mr Schmidt said that when looking at things from one point of view, the DG and the Minister should be at the meeting, including expert witnesses. Pre-consultations were very important, so the legal department would have to decide who they wanted to call, who they wanted to consult with, and when they would want to consult with them. This would have to include the costs and purposes of each consultation. A formal letter could then be written to the House Chair, stating that the Committee was requesting the required budget from the Department in order to fulfil the request from Parliament.
Ms Mafolo said the last time she asked who would pay if there was a witness then, the legal advisor had responded that it would be Parliament. However, now the Committee staff could not go to the witnesses. The issue of state capture had been discussed without progress being made, and this inquiry had been based on the outcome of the inquiry by the Public Protector. The Committee could wait for the Judicial Commission to come up with its resolution, and then the Committee could take after them, because now it was late.
The Chairperson said that they had been left with two days, and the technicalities of Parliament were such that any meeting convened must be approved by Parliament. Only the budget of Parliament could be utilized. He asked if the Committee was not discussing something that they had no authority over. What was the Committee suggesting should be done in light of the particular limitations? He would have answered that it would be better to call the Minister to ask him what had he discovered since he had come into office, and based on his answers the Committee might be able to suggest what would need to follow. He told Mr Pikinini that Judge Zondo had said he would start the process in August, and would be finished only in two years. Perhaps by then, someone else would be the Chairperson.
Mr Schmidt said that a timeline was needed before the constituency period.
Mr Lorimer said that one of two things was happening -- either there was an oversight, and a budget had not been provided, or a political decision had been made to close down the inquiry. In the hope that it was the first of the two, he asked that a request be sent for a budget, though he was finding it difficult to believe that such an oversight could happen. In his view, what was happening was an attempt to use procedure to shut down the inquiry, which was unacceptable.
Mr M Matlala (ANC) said that the Chairperson had reported that Parliament did not have a budget, so he was not sure if Mr Lorimer had some other agenda. In his own view, they were not hiding from the issue of the inquiry -- it was an issue of not having money. He suggested that it be requested that they hand over their submission to Deputy Chief Justice Zondo. The issue would take two or three years, and it could lead to 200 people being called, which meant it would not do justice to call one person per day. It also meant that the Committee would finish the process after Judge Zondo's inquiry. He asked if it was possible to call former Minister Zwane, who was no longer in the executive. State capture included a lot of people, but the Committee was focusing on one person, Mr Zwane. He had consulted with legal minds on the matter of calling a person who was no longer on the executive to appear at the inquiry of a Portfolio Committee, and they said it could not happen because they could sue.
Ms Mafolo said that she thought that the matter was being dealt with honestly, and it was unfair and unacceptable for Mr Lorimer to accuse Members of a political mandate. The Committee should continue with Mr Schmidt’s suggestion.
The Chairperson asked the Members to be careful to not be at each others’ throats in a matter that they had no authority over. They all came from different political parties, but the primary thing was that they were there for the common well-being of the people. From his point of view, the Committee did not have authority close the matter. The Committee felt they could not proceed without the proper mechanisms being put in place. He suggested that they should write to the House Chairperson. He asked what the response would be if the House Chairperson said there was no budget.
Mr Schmidt responded that if Parliament was serious about its inquiry, then it should allow the evidence leader to consult with the witnesses.
Ms Ebrahim said that the purpose of the first preliminary meeting was because the people to be interviewed would have indicated who the other people were that they could speak to, but this was would be done in confidence, with the support staff not releasing the names. This would make the Committee’s request a difficult exercise.
The Chairperson said the report had stated that their request had been declined because there was no budget. In the absence of that budget, it would be difficult to move forward. The House Chairperson would have to tell them whether a budget was available or not.
Mr Schmidt said that he was unsure what the issue was in saying this was the cost, and this was what was needed.
Mr Matlala interjected that Mr Schmidt was out of order. Why should the same thing be written to the House Chairperson when they had already received the response? It was a waste of time.
The Chairperson asked Mr Schmidt to continue.
Mr Schmidt continued that he wanted to see the letter, because if the Chairperson of this Parliament had rejected it, it would have political ramifications. He added that if the ANC did not want to proceed with the inquiry and did not want to request a budget, then it should be put on record.
The Chairperson said that he would be postponing his responsibility for another day. The legal services had said that with what had been botched last week, they found it difficult to go forward. He said the preliminary budget would be dealt with next week, and closed the matter.
Consideration and Adoption of Minutes
Ms Nyambi moved the adoption of the minutes of 25 April 2018. Mr Pikinini seconded, and they were adopted.
Mr Matlala moved the adoption of the minutes of 23 May. Ms Nyambi seconded, and they were adopted..
The Chairperson asks if there were any matters arising.
The Chairperson referred to a matter arising, and said he would be speaking to the Minister and Deputy Minister to urge that the Mine Health and Safety Act amendment process needed to be speeded up. This was an extremely urgent matter.
The meeting was adjourned.
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